Listening to classical music on a chilly winter day... watching the music give poetry to winds tussling about the last of the leaves on still, cold trees.
I could get lost in a moment like that for hours. And yet, the pressure to socialize nudged at me. So one afternoon, I got up and decided to go to lunch with David. I hadn't seen him since the night outside my door and could tell he was affected by my distance.
"Hi," I smiled, walking toward him outside the restaurant. I leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. His expression bore disappointment. We went inside and let the hostess seat us, removing layers of scarves and hats before the server appeared.
"I haven't seen you in a while, Nina..." David took my hands in his and warmed them. "I've missed you."
He gazed tenderly into my eyes saying this. There must have been some divide in me, for I was both touched by his sensitivity and distracted from being fully able to receive it.
I wanted to be moved. Blown out of capacity. And lust no longer did that for me.
As if reading my thoughts, he spoke again.
"I hope you did not feel like I was pressuring you the other night," he hesitated for a moment, looking away. "I really like you, and the foundation of that is not built on lust or some temporary affection."
David's face flushed red. His eyes slowly met my gaze again, but this time I noticed an intensity I had not seen before.
"We can go slow, if that's what you need."
I wanted to look away but I could not. It was disconnecting out of years of habit. Out of fear of intimacy that I longer wanted to fear. So I kept looking back, nodding.
"I'm not going anywhere, Nina." He brought my hands to his lips and kissed them with eyes closed.
I sat there incredulous.
However the times have changed, in this modern day, I know even the most callous woman still has remnants of a novice's romantic heart. Swept away by poetry and beautiful sentiment. As sweet as words are, I was no longer seduced by them. I gently pulled my hand away after caressing his face. I did not want him to feel dismissed. But I was at this point rooted and ancient and weary as a willow tree. Married and bound to the earth beneath me. Mere words were no longer enough to move me.
As I returned home from lunch, I noticed someone had stuck an envelope in between the door. Curious, I pulled it out and opened it. Inside was a piece of parchment, appearing burned around the sides. I opened the letter to find a simple note. It read:
"The moth dances around the perimeter of flames. In death, she discovers a solace her wings in seeking could never locate."
I stared at the parchment, reading the line over and over again. No one else was in the hall but me. It remained eerily quiet and dark, but I stood there hoping whoever wrote me this would magically appear.
I sighed, folding the parchment back into the envelope. Whoever wrote me the letter, I thought, would surely return to my door again. And when they did, they would have an envelope awaiting them.
Snow fell on the eve of December. I sat by the window pane, watching the snowflakes float their way down to cold ground. I felt guilty for not calling David back, but felt myself withdraw anyway. The truth is, he was absolutely beautiful to me. A grace and passion that for years I longed for. A tenderness and humility that I only dreamed of, and here it was now in front of me, and all I could manage was to remain polite. I think the hard truth for me to admit was the fear from residual baggage.
I felt like that before. And unfurled a vulnerability and intimacy that overwhelmed the last man I loved. He wanted me, but ultimately he did not love me. It was a difficult truth to accept. One that when I did finally, liberated me from needing that kind of acceptance from someone else. And yet with this one, I wondered how sincere his words really were. How many men have woven beautiful tapestries of pretend. Good intentions with no backbone to follow through on heavy words like "I. Love. You."
I stared at the piece of paper and blinked thoughtlessly.
"Stranger," I finally wrote. "I have always depended on the kindness of---"
I scribbled over the unfinished words, and crumbled up the piece of paper. What to write? How to write from the heart?
"What death may come before a life first lived? I ache to see, and yet you keep yourself hidden from me."
I didn't stop to read what I wrote. I was afraid I would change my mind and tear up a perfectly fine piece of sentiment. I secretly prayed it was not a mentally ill stalker that I was summoning from the shadows with my bold request.
Was always my downfall and yet my greatest strength.
Intrepid. Eyes open. In the face of unknown or adversity, I would never turn my gaze the other way.
to be cont..